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Travel Insurance Claims - True Stories Just some of the weird and wonderful things that happen to World Nomads travellers while on the road

True Travel Tales - Banged up abroad: Colombian style

COLOMBIA | Tuesday, 8 March 2011 | Views [4347] | Comments [2]

The scene of the crime

Description: Entrance to the Media Luna Hostel

What happened? Tell us your tale.

You hear about things like this happening: on the news, on T.V shows, about friends …..of friends ….of friends, but you never expect it to happen to you.

It was a month and a half in to our 3 month south America trip, and so far things had run without a hitch. Despite having a horrible week in Jamaica, the trip overall was a success.

We had been in Colombia for a little over a week, staying in Cartagena, soaking up the sun and the atmosphere, enjoying the nightlife and the other tourists and guests of the Media Luna hostel.

After a week of seeing the sun rise we decided it was time for a night in, our bodies needed it, we were exhausted. Putting our ear plugs in to block out the noise from the music in the courtyard I managed to fall asleep, despite the arid 35 degree temperature and the inadequate ceiling fan.

4:30am: A rude awakening: The lights went on as 7 men in balaclavas kicked the door in, knives and guns in their hands. Yelling and screaming in Spanish that no one could understand we realised that we were being robbed, or, possibly worse, about to be kidnapped. The armed assailants began tearing up bedsheets, directing us to lie on our stomachs on the bed, pushing our heads down and telling us to be quiet. My friend Will, on the top bunk was the last to wake up, dazed and confused he asked what was going on, only to be told by Moults to shut up and do what they said. He crawled down form the top bunk.

The men used the bed sheets to tie our hands behind our back and our hands then tied to our feet. My friend was scared that his toes were going to be cut off. Once we were tied up we felt a sense of relied that we were not going to be marched off into the jungle and shot.

The robbers proceeded to ransack our belongings, taking anything of value. (Luckily our passports were well concealed and all my photos were uploaded to Facebook because they did manage to pinch my camera, among other things.)

We then heard a terrifying scream, a girl, a couple of rooms up. She had, unfortunately come back to the hostel mid robbery. We feared she was about to be raped. This was the most disturbing part of the ordeal. Luckily this was not the case, she was thrown to the ground and tied up.

The robbers, after waiting out the front of the hostel for a guest to come home, held her up and had her open the door. They then tied up the receptionists and went through 4 of the 20 rooms before leaving. We lay there, tied up for another 10 minutes before someone came down and cut us free.

The police didn’t arrive for forty minutes after that. (But hey, what can you expect in a morally corrupt country where money talks!)

We were alive, and that was the important thing. No one seemed too shaken up, maybe a little jumpy. It was, at the very least, a story to tell the grandkids.

What was the outcome of the event?

They caught two of the robbers. We filed police reports and all our valuables were reclaimed on travel insurance.

Due to the delay in police arriving, we all strongly suspected police corruption, and a tip off from a disgruntled employee.

It didn’t put a damper on our travels though. No one was hurt, and we stayed for another week in Colombia without a problem.

What advice would you give to other travellers to avoid or survive the situation?

Going to these countries you are at a risk of things like this happening, albeit slight.

If security is a concern to you, stay in a hotel, rather than a hostel.

If you find yourself held up at gun point, they probably only want your valuables, so do what they say and hand them over!

Contact your embassy for assistance if you feel you need it.

Be cautious of the police. They are all corrupt and will screw you if they can make a buck out of it!

Important Travel Insurance Information

World Nomads travel insurance policies (as with most travel insurance policies) would require you, in the event you are injured while travelling, to please:

· attend the nearest medical facility as soon as possible and/or;

· contact your emergency assistance team as soon as possible

If you are robbed while you are travelling, you will need to provide:

· an official report (police) confirming the incident took place

· proof of ownership of the items that have been lost or stolen (receipts of purchase, boxes, instruction manuals).

If you are unsure that the documents you have are enough to support you claim, please contact your insurer or emergency assistance team for further advice. Please note that how you were looking after your items at the time of an incident occurring is also considered by any claims team.

For further information regarding a policies inclusions and exclusions please read your policy wording or contact your insurer to discuss.

Safety Advice From World Nomads

Unfortunately, hostel and hotel robberies are becoming more of a concern for travellers to Colombia - but this is no cause to completely disregard travel there.

In many cases, its simply being a case of the wrong place at the wrong time.

One of the key points we can learn from this story is that if you are in trouble, it's important to comply with your assailants demands. Possessions are only temporary, injury can be permanent. Do NOT try to be a hero. Robbers like these are usually seasoned, and are used to dealing with combat in high-tension situations. Unless you are a Green Beret Crack-Commando, give them what they want and the ordeal, hopefully, will be over shortly.

Stories like these are the worst part of travel, but they can be a reality. If you find yourself in that reality, remain calm and compliant and chances are you will be ok.

Related Articles:

True Travel Tales - Kissing the Road in Rhodes

True Travel Tales - In the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time

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Tags: colombia, corruption, crime, hostel, robbery, south america, theft, travel, travel insurance, travellers



3 things to keep your stuff (and self) safe:

1. Use good judgment
2. Always be aware
3. Get in with trusted locals

If you do all of that and the shit still hits the fan...then just choose to enjoy the ride because that, my friends, is life.

  Steve Mar 8, 2011 10:29 AM


this hostel is so sketchy, we stayed there last night and they try sell you drugs in the hostel and at the door and in the morning there was a death in the room above ours. the guy had overdosed probably but getting info was difficult since they didnt want the info to leak thereby giving them an even worse reputation. my only request is that you spread the word, this place is RUBBISH

  arman and anabella Aug 17, 2011 10:03 AM

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